When Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel was preparing to open its doors last October, it expected to have 400 employees.
Less than a year later, it has 600.
“For the 600 jobs that we have, we had over 25,000 applicants,” hospital chief executive Brian Adams said last week. “Not all of those applicants, of course, were qualified for roles in health care. But even in nursing, for every one job, we had more than 10 applicants.”
Adams was sharing the news with the economic development committee of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce. Having so many applicants means the hospital can really be selective, and focus purely on talent. The Wesley Chapel hospital, for example, has an average of 10 years experience.
And the hospital has outpaced projections in other areas as well. Its 26,000 emergency room visits and 380 baby deliveries are roughly double original expectations, Adams said. Other first-year figures include 3,800 admissions and 1,800 surgeries.
Business owners may wonder if people will travel into Wesley Chapel to get health care, and the answer to that is that they do, Adams said.
“The economic development piece of having a business that not only employs 600 people in the community, but also attracts people into Wesley Chapel, is a real benefit,” he said. “Many of the individuals who now come to Wesley Chapel for care were traveling out of the county for care, so they were going down into Hillsborough County, which means they see physicians in Hillsborough County, which means they stop for lunch on their way to see those physicians in Hillsborough.”
Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel sits on 52 acres on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, west of SR 56. It has 83 beds, with the capability expanding to 299.
The hospital itself is three stories now, but can rise to six when the hospital needs more room to handle increasing health care needs, Adams said. And it might be sooner rather than later. Figures by the hospital show population growth in the area between 2.9 percent and 4 percent by 2017.
There are other factors to consider as well beyond just population growth, and that’s something the Wesley Chapel hospital stays cognizant of, Adams said. One is how much health care people are using.
“In this community, it’s going down, mainly because of the shift of cost from employer-based health plans to individual-based health plans,” Adams said.
The age of the population also figures in. In a community like Wesley Chapel, where the population is growing younger, the amount of healthcare used is lower than in a community like Zephyrhills, where the population is older.
The hospital is working to be a good neighbor, and may even reach out to Pasco-Hernando Community College after it opens its Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch in January. The college is taking shape on a site near the intersection of SR 56 and Mansfield Boulevard, not far from the hospital.
“Having PHCC in the community will only benefit all of us,” Adams said. “I’ve had a number of conversations with the leadership at PHCC, and we believe part of our role is to create opportunities for students to learn and grow in a real-life setting.”
That’s common in the medical field, especially in the nursing field, he said. Having PHCC offer a transition to bachelor’s-level nursing can only help surrounding hospitals like Wesley Chapel’s.
Finally, with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act on the horizon, Adams was optimistic that many pieces of the federal plan will benefit the community.
“People having access to the health care, at the primary care level, is probably the best way to best reduce our overall healthcare spend,” he said. “The most expensive time to care for a patient is when they have reached a point in their health where the intervention takes heavy resources.”
It also means taking steps now to prevent more serious health problems in the future.
“If you can help someone who didn’t have insurance to go to a physician and get their diabetes under control before that diabetes wreaked havoc on their heart, it’s a totally different approach,” Adams said.
But there will also be changes in the way employers handle insurance, by some employers no longer covering spouses that can get insurance elsewhere, and the proliferation of high-deductible health plans as companies try to offer affordable insurance to low-wage employees.
Ultimately, Adams thinks that consumers will drive the need for quality care, especially if they are paying the first $10,000 of their health care costs out-of-pocket due to high deductibles in their insurance plans.